Where the Sun Shines on Nothing But This Moment

On my side of the mountain
there’s not much but regret,
only ashes and scorched trees
standing in their shadow-creature
accusatory way, ever pointing and
reminding me how I always took the wrong
forks in the road and almost became lost.
They said that on your side,
the forest is thick with shadows, too,
and no one moves forward to the mountain,
always worrying whether any dark thing
ahead is going to hurt them. But
I’ll bet they're just swinging tree limbs,
all wind and no threat. Like a shadow.

If I was to get off my sooty knees
and scrape them up the mountain,
would you shinny your sometimes shaky ones
up there, too? Because I don’t want
to choke on any ashes of regret anymore.
And I’ll guess you don’t want to hide
in the shadows from even more shadows.
If I take your hand and you grab mine
once we’ve reached the peak,
there’s little chance we’ll fall
from where the sun shines on nothing but
this moment and the only shadows we see
are our own, cast down the fall line, into
the shady past and future from which we rose.

My Wishes Look Brighter By the Light of Yesterday

Sitting in the car 
just around the corner.
Street light beaming through 
a foggy windshield, 
illuminating my hands, 
my chest, my mouth. 
But not my mind, 
groping in the dark 
for its best answer. 
Do I? (Sure.)
Should I? (Why not?)
Can I? (Of course.)
What if? (I think it would make you happy.)
But what about…you know? 
(Yeah…and? You want me to fight dirty?)
I’m just sayin’…
(It’d be best for everyone.) Everyone?
(Especially you.) Mmmmaybe, but…
(Always “but.” What’re you 
afraid of this time?) The usual.
(It’s right there around the corner.
What you wished for.)
Maybe tomorrow. 
And before I could hear the reply, 
I started my car and pulled away. 
No headlights, straight down the 
street, past one corner's dim streetlight 
to the next. Occasionally I looked back 
at the lights on the yesterday corners 
not taken and wondered why they 
always looked so much brighter 
than those on the tomorrows.

For Day 2's Poem-A-Day effort, I combined the NaPoWriMo prompt with Writer's Digest's. The former asked for a poem about the writer's "road not taken" and how it might've affected his/her life. While WD's asked for a poem about our idea of what our futures hold and to use that idea in the title. Competing ideas, I know. Boom! 

Smile, the Laugh’s On Me

Do you remember when I used to 
make you laugh and you could 
bring a smile to my face 
just by flashing me your own? 
I’m sure you don’t think 
of those days much anymore.
Life’s moved on, and those 
old laughs and smiles, 
like memories, became such 
fleeting things, harder to hold 
than a fistful of smoke.
Oh, but what I wouldn’t give 
to hear your laugh, lilting like a song 
across the canyon between us, 
calling for my smile to echo back. 
But I can’t hear your song anymore
and you’ve forgotten the words.
Guess the laugh’s on me.

Trying to Not Let Go

You know the anger’s in there
 but I dare not let it show.
 Certain objects will get broken
 should I ever let it go.
 It’s like a big ol’ gray wolf
 that I’m holding by the ears.
 If I loose his fuzzy handles
 your gentle man here disappears.
 The world becomes my China shop,
 I become its snorting bull.
 And I fall to my inner demon,
 the one with gravitational pull.
 You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry,
 though you’ve seen me in that state.
 I just swallowed it like candy,
 the damned damage to abate.
 After that I keep quiet
 lest that sweetened demon dash.
 And out come words that hurt you
 or worse, silence, like a crash.
 Like thunder after lightning strikes,
 from eyes that flash a warning,
 it’d be best if you let me
 walk it off 'til morning.
 I left some walls behind me
 with holes the size of my fist.
 Filled them with regret later,
 the painful price of getting pissed.
 Wish I could so easily fix
 one more thing I broke apart
 when I spit out the blind demon
 and unknowingly broke your heart.
 That’s why I fight so hard inside
 that damned gray wolf to subdue.
 I’ll gladly hold it ten more years
 than let it go again and hurt you.

I'll hold him, if you'd like to pet him.

Life in the Ruins

 Lying here in the ruins 
 of a life wrecked 
 by this short-haired Samson 
 who never knew his own strength 
 when it came to raining 
 pain and debris upon those
 who shared it with me.
 So often I’ve been blinded 
 to reality by silly tendency 
 to be eye-wrapt by beauty 
 or a smile that was only a smile.
 Now all is weak remembrance, 
 only the out-of-focus recollection 
 of mirages in deserts 
 of hope and dream. How typical.
 In reaching for the Not-There,
 I topple the pillars 
 of the Always-Was.
 It sounds like bad poetry.

Mea Culpa, If You Like

I’m sorry if I haven’t said “Sorry,”
since I’m usually good about guilt.
Of that capacity you could fill a lorry
with enough remorse a prison could be built.

I’ve taken all your reproaches to heart,
even though some of my sins are projection,
that might have been formed and thrown on your part.
I’m sure it’s your form of self-protection.

Now, let’s get back to the subject at hand,
my mea culpa for sins you think I did.
It’s my safekeeping you don’t understand,
and due to my dutiful ways I hid.

But here’s what you want, “I apologize.”
Let’s see how much real acceptance that buys.

The Scars That Never Stop Hurting

He didn’t know how to make peace with his past. What offering of acceptable remorse exists when the past, in whatever personage or spirit, listens naught and averts its eyes at the mere thought of him? He’d try, “I’m sorry,” but seven letters hanging off-kilter from an apostrophe can get blown sideways and lost in the winds between two people, two different lives from what came before. His mind has lost its edge and quickness since its days of serving up scars even before others knew the sting of his cut. Now his life is not much more than a scar, something to look at and recall all those wounds he administered across his lifetime. So he waits upon his cold chair for that final felling wound. He sighs at how the sword always fell to his pen, but knows the scythe always wins. Perhaps then a peace he still dreams might come will reveal itself before he hears the swoosh of that existential steel. And, if comes too late, he must assume the role a scar on a piece of someone else’s past. But wouldn’t it be grand to hear that voice say, “Would you write me again.”?

A 200-word free written bit of what feels like literary (those probably not literate) confession and self-imposed penance. Hey, you sit down without a shred of inspiration, you can’t expect Shakespeare or Kendrick Lamar. You just hope and expect ‘something’ will appear eventually. Oh, and the new photo, old regrets and ancient scar (I have many more, some of which you can’t see) are all ©Joseph Hesch.

Full Stop.

He hates to think
he’ll reach The End and
never have the chance
to close their story
with a clean, contented dot,
punctuation connoting
the final exhalation
of a spoken breath.

Her draft still
bears that bold-face
exclamation point,
bolt-upright, indignant,
with arms akimbo…
if !” had any arms.

His version sports
what they once called
an interrogation mark,
a Quasimodo “?” questioning
something they still
didn’t understand,
only that he’s either
the clueless or callous
actor who prompted
her reaction.

They say he’s not got
much of a future
to look forward to
and his vision’s grown
too befogged to clearly
discern the past.
So he wonders if
some day she might
just say hello.

Perhaps then they
could bid goodbye to
the figures who cast
their shadows upon
what once was yet
never could be
and place that .,
a simple declarative
conclusion, on this,
a story better left

First-draft desparate free-write. Full stop.

Tunnel of Loves

Sometimes he can almost
make out what he’s looking for
deep in his Well of Memories.
Could be they’re glimpses
of what he actually experienced,
or maybe pieces of some other
recollection torn, dented
and stuck on their way down
in the shadowy moss fuzzing up
the view of this ever darkening
tunnel of loves lost and found?
Did she really say what he sees
in that unlikely clump of lichens?
Or is that merely a couple of dreams
he lost when finally he awakened?
Is that truly the touch
of her cheek to his or just
another soft thing he can’t recall
if he stole or merely wished
would warm him now when the world
grows colder, darker and
more regretful by the night.
Sometimes, when the moon’s just right,
he thinks he sees her face there
at the bottom, watching him
as he searches for something
no one ever saw but him.
Probably it’s just his face
reflecting back into those eyes
that hope they’ll find her there,
or see she might still care,
or the image of her ever thinking
she sees the same things
in the dark memories into which
she stares. If she ever dares.

Perhaps Among the Ashes a Spark Remains

As my days grow shorter,
this heart grows darker.
And as I look within
more and more, I see
the ashes of fires I made
with the torches I carried.
In what light still filters inside,
I see I’m surrounded by piles
of charcoal, charred remnants
of kindling I stacked and,
with warm words, teased
to flickering life
the gossamer tinder of whoever
I thought we were.

Some died from lack of heat,
others I failed to tend to enough,
and that one over there
you stomped out and kicked aside.
I wander this mausoleum of misses,
and gaze at the spaces
where heartwarming fires
turned to cold-hearted pyres.
Perhaps I’m just trying to find
a memory as I sigh among the ashes.
Or maybe I’m looking
for a spark or glow I might
breathe once more to life
and rekindle a lost friendship
before my own fire goes out.